How An Autistic Classmate Changed My Life

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At times, we do not know which classmate will make a difference in our lives. So let’s befriend them all, because hey, the more the merrier, right?


I was in the 7th grade and was our lunch break on a chilly Monday afternoon in the first week of January. We had just joined back to school after winter break, and my friends and I had a fixed spot to meet up at the minute the recess bell rang. When we reached our bench, there was a girl sitting there already with an adult. We stop a few feet before the bench and look at each other. Without another thought, we go up to the table.

“Hi,” the lady said smiling, “My name is Sheelu, and this is Poonam.”

Poonam looks up from the table, looks at us, and smiles (or at least that’s what I thought it was).

“Hi!” my friends and I said in unison and sat down, a little perplexed. We were all thinking why Poonam was so aloof. As we got talking to Ms. Sheelu, we found out that Poonam was autistic, and for the betterment of Poonam, Ms. Sheelu accompanied her everywhere in school. But, there was one problem that even Ms. Sheelu couldn’t fix, no matter how hard she tried and that was finding Poonam some friends.

At that moment, our hearts melted, and we promised to be her friends. From that day forward, Poonam sat with us every day during lunch. During this time, we found out that Poonam was an artist and a marvelous one too! Slowly, day by day, Ms. Sheelu started moving away from our table, but at a distance where she had a watch on Poonam, and she watched us with a smile on her face.

There was that day, and then there is today. I do not know where Poonam is or how she is. I do not know if she still paints, or if she found new friends. I guess we all got so busy with our own lives, that we all lost touch and unfortunately, I have no way to find out.


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